By CBS Baltimore Staff

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — State officials are asking residents and visitors of western Maryland to watch out for increased black bear activity this fall season.

Autumn is the time black bears start a period of increased feeding ahead of winter hibernation, and they’re not shy of human food.

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The Maryland Department of Natural Resources said the state’s “bear country” is Allegany, Frederick, Garrett, and Washington counties. The department wants to remind residents to take common-sense precautions to avoid close encounters with the animals.

“Keeping food sources like bird feeders, pet food, and trash in a place where bears can’t get to them is the best way to avoid problems,” Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul Peditto said.

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The DNR says to never feed bears because they’ll come back looking for more. If you encounter a bear, officials said to keep calm and leave the area immediately.

The department said motorists traveling in western Maryland should also watch for bears crossing roads in search of food.

The department provided these pointers to minimize bear problems on property:

  • Reduce garbage odors. Rinse food cans and wrappers before disposal.
  • Compost vegetable scraps properly away from house.
  • Keep meat scraps in the freezer until garbage pickup day.
  • Wash garbage cans regularly and use lime to cut odors.
  • Keep garbage cans in a bear-proof container or in an enclosed building until trash pickup. ​
  • Remove bird feeders in the spring. If you persist in feeding during summer, remove seed, suet and hummingbird feeders at night.
  • Keep pet food inside.
  • Keep barbecue grills and picnic tables clean.
  • Use an energized fence to keep bears out of beehives, sweet corn, fruit trees and berry patches. (An energized fence is powered by a low-impedance, high–voltage energizer that provides a short-duration, high-energy impulse.)
  • Barking dogs, bright lights and noisemakers will sometimes discourage bears from coming into an area.
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For more information on living around black bears, visit the department’s website.

CBS Baltimore Staff